Various Reggae Royale

At first glance, Reggae Royale looks like a very promising compilation of roots-reggae. Bob Marley & the Wailers, the Upsetters, Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Soulful Dynamics are represented, along with a plethora of relatively unknown singers. The Wailers' tracks are by far the standout songs on this compilation. Although the recordings are of poor quality (early Studio 1-era), powerful songs like "Trenchtown Rock" and "Rebel's Hop" don't lose any of their appeal. Marley's influence as reggae's best known icon is evident throughout the rest of the disc, with far inferior versions of some Wailers' classics performed by the likes of Mini Austin, Soul Train and Jah Led. Aside from the Wailers' tunes, the only tracks on this CD worth a second listen are the songs by the Upsetters and Lee Perry's solo tracks. Perry's inimitable dub noodling on "Sun Is Shining" and "Scratch the Dub Organiser" puts the rest of this compilation to shame. I've never heard of some of the artists on this album, and based on the quality of their music, it looks like it it'll stay that way. (Maverick)